GEARHART —In the interest of full disclosure, my husband, Mr. Sax (RJ Marx), made contact with Karynn Kozij, the Gearhart postmistress, 2 1/2 years ago, a few weeks before we moved to the area.
“You’re really going to like her,” he said after speaking on the phone to her at length as he set up our new mail-receiving situation. It would be my first time having mail delivered to a Post Office box. Knowing my penchant for becoming cozy with the folks who handle my mail, he rightly projected Karynn and I would become friends over the Post Office counter.
Last spring, Karynn mentioned her participation in the Cannon Beach Earth Day 2016 celebratory art contest and juried show held in the Cannon Beach Chamber Community Hall. I went to the event and that was the first time I saw her art. I stood in front of her “Octopus’s Garden Family Reunion at the Beach” and was awed. By the end of the evening, Karynn was crowned with the people’s choice award winner and took third place in the judged Steve McLeod award.
Karynn doesn’t just collect beach debris and cleverly arrange it. Her gift is creating characters, real personalities she breathes life into. There’s Fritzy, Aunt Kay, Neil, Kim, Kevin, and Gary, to name just a few. Great-great-grandfather Kraken, fashioned, from what looks like an old bell buoy, says his arms don’t work too well. Mike, born of old rope and plastic, is a MacGyver fan who spends his time scouring the beach for potential disguises and useful tools. Kevin, a self-described loner, was created from debris plastic and marine rope.
Months ago while writing for this newspaper about another art endeavor, Beaver Tales, I mentioned Karynn’s work to Denise Fairweather who has a gallery in Seaside. I told Denise, “You probably already know her; she is the Gearhart postmistress.” So I was very happy to learn of Denise’s promotion of Karynn on the Fairweather House & Gallery blog under “Findings: Karynn Kozij’s marine debris art.” Or, as Denise put it, “Found While Picking Up Mail.”
Karynn says her artistic vision was developed when she was growing up in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, on a farm. She spent a lot of time perusing her father’s stash of materials kept in myriad sheds, outbuildings and barn.
To this day she has a tough time passing up stuff other people might call rubbish. I know she drives and walks the beach in all weather, searching for who knows what.
Last March, after spring storms dumped marine debris across our coastline, she found so much trash on the shore disheartening. For days she took it on herself to drive the beach after work to haul away carloads of trash. Unable to abandon so much good rope, she began considering what might be done with it. Finding inspiration in the old Beatles’ tune, “Octopus’s Garden,” she found a treasure trove of potential art. The rest, as they say, is history.
I’d like to be under the sea, in an octopus’ garden in the shade
He’d let us in, knows where we’ve been, in his octopus’ garden in shade.
“Octopus Garden Family Reunion” is on display through the month of August at Fairweather Home & Gallery in Seaside located at 612 Broadway. Or check out fairweatherhouseandgallery.wordpress.com.